Louisiana reports two new flu-related pediatric deaths

Louisiana's Department and Health and Hospitals recently reported two new pediatric deaths in its weekly flu report to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the DHH said last week.

The two deaths, one of which occurred in early January and was just reported to the DHH, bring the total number of pediatric flu deaths up to four for the season. Louisiana law requires healthcare professionals and hospitals to report all pediatric flu deaths to the DHH.

Two of the four pediatric deaths occurred in southeast Louisiana, one death occurred in southwest Louisiana and the other death occurred in northwest Louisiana.

Since October 1, there are 53 laboratory-confirmed, flu-related deaths in Louisiana. The DHH said hundreds of people die annually in Louisiana without ever being diagnosed with the flu, so the figure does not represent the full flu risk to the population.

The dominant strain of flu currently circulating is H1N1, which is one of the strains covered in this season's flu vaccination. The DHH strongly encouraged residents who have not yet been vaccinated to do so to protect themselves and their families. The DHH said the flu shot is the best protection against the flu.

According to the DHH, vaccination is particularly important for groups with a higher risk of developing flu-related complications, including people with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, adults aged 65 and older and children under the age of five.